A civic goddess in Egyptian and Greek mythology, perhaps of marriage, personifying earthly or common love.
(ARL-18: displacement 4,100; length 328'; beam 50'; draft 11'2"; speed 11 knots; complement 53; armament 8 40 millimeter, 8 20 millimeter; class Achelous)
The unnamed tank landing ship LST–650 was laid down on 20 July 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co.; reclassified as a landing craft repair ship, ARL-18, on 14 August 1944; named Pandemus on 11 September 1944; launched on 10 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Laura Sauter Gasperik; placed in reduced commission on 21 October 1944 for the transit downriver to New Orleans, La.; decommissioned on 3 November 1944 for conversion by Todd-Johnson Dry Dock, Inc.; and commissioned on 23 February 1945, Lt. Comdr. Howard B. Shaw, Jr., USNR, in command.
Pandemusdeparted New Orleans on 12 March 1945 for shakedown out of Panama City, Fla. and returned for alterations on 26 March. On 4 April she stood down the Mississippi River, bound for the Pacific theater of war. Reporting for duty with the Pacific Fleet after transiting the Panama Canal (10-12 April), Pandemus proceeded to Pearl Harbor, and thence to Eniwetok, in the Marshalls, Guam, in the Marianas, and Ulithi, in the Carolines before being assigned to the Okinawa-bound convoy UOK-23. Proceeding to the Hagushi anchorage, off Okinawa, she tended and repaired infantry landing craft (LCI) and small craft involved in the securing of Okinawa (13 June-15 July 1945).
Pandemusthen paid a return visit to Guam, sailing in convoy OKS-11, and then, after proceeding there in convoy GS-138, touched at Saipan on her way to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands, where she arrived, in convoy SL-10, on 7 August 1945. She provided services to landing craft and small craft in that area through the end of hostilities, standing out of the waters off Tacloban on 6 September to return to Okinawa for a second stint (12-28 September) and then to Shanghai, China, where she performed identical service duty (30 September-21 December). She put to sea from Shanghai four days before Christmas of 1945.
After pausing at Pearl Harbor (13-25 January 1946), Pandemus sailed for the west coast in company with the infantry landing craft LCI-706. Arriving at San Pedro, Calif., on 5 February 1946, the landing craft repair ship sailed for Mobile, Ala., six days later, arriving at her destination on 3 March, to assist in preparing landing craft and minecraft for inactivation. She shifted to Algiers, La., on 4 July and decommissioned there on 23 September 1946. She was inactivated, her preservation 94% complete, on 30 April 1947, and moved to Green Cove Springs, Fla., for layup.
As directed in Chief of Naval Operations Logistical Planning Memorandum No. 124G of 25 September 1951, Pandemus was recommissioned at Green Cove Springs on 14 December 1951, Lt. John H. Thomas in command. After fitting out at Merrill Stevens Shipyard, Jacksonville, Fla., the ship shifted to Mayport, whence she departed on 14 January 1952 for Charleston, S.C., where she paused (15-21 January) en route to the Fleet Training Center at Norfolk, where she arrived on 23 January. Following courses of on-board instruction that ranged from effecting damage control to standing officer-of-the-deck watches (23 January-28 March), Pandemus then proceeded to the U.S. Naval Minecraft Base, Charleston, her new home port, on 30 March, where she served as tender for Mine Squadron (MinRon) 4, and thus began over a decade and a half of service providing support for mine warfare training evolutions along the Atlantic Coast, from Charleston and Norfolk to Savannah, Ga.,Yorktown and Little Creek, Va., Newport, R.I. and Key West, Fla.; to Guantanamo Bay and Cuban waters (visiting Havana between 9 and 12 February 1954); to the Caribbean and West Indies, visiting San Juan and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and Ciudad Trujillo, in the Dominican Republic, and into the Gulf of Mexico.
After providing tender services to units of the Atlantic Fleet's Mine Force at the start of the year 1967, Pandemus sailed for Orange, Texas, to strip parts from minesweepers in reserve at the Naval Inactive Ship Support Facility there. She accomplished her mission in four days and then stood out, her tank deck filled with salvaged material, returning to Charleston on 28 February, off-loading the salvaged equipment for further distribution to Mine Force units. She then provided tender services to Mine Divisions 41 and 43 before she conducted independent ship exercises, punctuating those with a port visit to Nassau, British West Indies, returning to her home port on 22 March. Subsequently, the ship sailed for the Caribbean on 14 April with Capt. Jack L. Koons, Commander, MinRon 8, embarked, and participated in Operation Clovehitch III, during which time she provided fuel and repair support for the minesweepers of Mine Division (MinDiv) 44 taking part in those evolutions at Vieques, Puerto Rico. Disembarking Capt. Koons at San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the ship's stay there (27-28 April), she then paid a two-day port call at St. Thomas before moving on to Panama City, where she provided tender services to MinDiv 81.
Underway on 19 May 1967 for Orange to continue stripping operations, Pandemus was transiting the Sabine River two days later when she collided with the tanker Mobile Lube, resulting in extensive damage to the landing craft repair ship's port bow. Fortunately, the mishap did not prevent the ship from carrying out her mission, and after stripping parts from reserve ships, she returned to Charleston on 29 May, where her resourceful hull repair division utilized "their talents and ingenuity" to accomplish repairs "at a savings of $3,500 over shipyard estimates." A ten-day period of independent ship exercises followed, punctuated by a visit to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after which time Pandemus returned to Charleston on 27 July. Underway for a dependents' day cruise the following day, the ship suffered a cracked port shaft and a dropped port propeller as a consequence; she required a tug for her return to port.
Decommissioned at Charleston on 30 September 1968, Pandemus was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 October 1968. Towed from Charleston by the fleet tug Mosopelea (ATF-158) on 16 January 1969, she arrived at her destination on 20 January to be stripped, for future disposal, at the Inactive Ship Facility at Philadelphia, Pa.
Originally earmarked for scrap sale on 20 March 1969, she was designated on 19 May 1969 to replace the ex-LST-type vessel that had "deteriorated to the point that it is unsatisfactory as a bombing target" that had been the point of aim (Target R-5313) at the Stumpy Point, N.C., bombing range. Accordingly, the former landing craft repair ship, ballasted to nine feet maximum draft for the passage through the Outer Banks, departed Philadelphia in tow of the auxiliary tug Accokeek (ATA-181) during the first dog watch on 26 August 1969, "en route [to] Morehead City, N.C., for use as target ship by [Commander, Fleet Air, Norfolk, Virginia]." Once she reached her destination, she was to be scuttled adjacent to her nearly obliterated sistership.
Pandemus received one battle star for World War II service.
By: Robert J. Cressman